***Tarragon Sundance ***

Remembering Tarragon Sundance, or Taz to his friends.

I made my transition from ponies to horses 18 years ago, Taz, you were my first horse, you didn’t make the transition very easy, in fact in our first competition we didn’t even get over the second jump. We carried on though, sometimes you wouldn’t even go over a pole on the ground & other times you would jump like a stag, it was always your choice though, if you didn’t want to jump you wouldn’t & that was that, like the time we went for trials to get on the pony club event team, you wouldn’t even jump the practice jump, I was so mad, but you had obviously decided we weren’t ready. We got on the team in 1997 and the team came third, you made me work really hard for that though. That same year we won the Dressage trophy at the GGH two day event, that was a first, our hard work with Angela had paid off, we hated Dressage, both of us, we were top of the leader board after the showjumping, steeplechase & roads & tracks, we thought we had it in the bag until we took a tumble in the cross country, that hay rack jump became our nemesis.

You were such a character, you loved to go out in the trailer/horsebox, you would drag anyone who happened to be inconveniently on the end of your leadrope up the ramp, in fact there wasn’t much point having anyone on the end of your leadrope, cos if you wanted to go somewhere, especially to a bucket, not even the worlds strongest man could stop you. You loved your food too, when you’d emptied your bucket you would throw it over the door for it to be filled again, unless we’d tried to hide wormer in your feed, no matter how we tried to hide it you would know it was in there, so we would have to squirt it in your mouth, you’re the only horse in history that could vomit, we would hold your mouth shut for ages thinking it must have gone down, but you’d spit it out when you thought it was safe & we wouldn’t be able to get it back in.

You helped me back in the saddle after my accident, we even had a go back showjumping, you put up with my wobblyness going over the jumps. We turned our hand to side-saddle, you thought you were the bees knees when we put that saddle on you, we didn’t win at the show, but it was a big achievement just doing it & you looked fab!!

You were spoilt rotten this winter, being companion to Fuji, you had your own lovely stable, to keep you warm & sheltered from all the cold & snow, and the last couple of days you had your rug off & were able to bathe in the warm sunshine, it’s just such a shame it had to end like this, I love you Taz & you will always have a speccial place in my heart, you were part of the family, thank you Jane for looking after him in his twilight years & thank you Jo for letting him be in our lives.

Tarragon Sundance 1983 – 2013

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London 2012

Who’s going to be watching the Olympics then? I’ll be watching it on TV, but I have tickets to go watch the Grade II freestyle at the Paralympics on the 3rd Septemeber, which will be a great experience. Mr G and I have had a quiet month, we’ve done some training & a couple of competitions at home, Gilbeys competitions were brilliant & brought a Para judge to the Island, she judged me at the Home International, after I’d finished the test, I heard her say I haven’t done my zero’s very well, well this had me panic stricken, thinking “what the heck did I get a zero for?” She explained they now do their scores with half points so 6.5 but when you get a full mark they have to write it 7.0, phew, I really didn’t thik I deserved zero’s! I got over 70% which I was over the moon with, I was so happy as I feel I’ve been stuck in this 60 – 65% black hole & it’s been quite depressing, so that brought my spirits u. Especially as I was planning to go to Myerscough for another KBIS qualifier, I needed that bit of confidence. The week before we were due to go away my wagon eventually passed its test, woohoo, we’re now on the road, so that was our living for the trip sorted too. Unfortunately Mr G had other ideas & decided to do a bit of self harming, he came in for his tea on one (of many) rainy sundays on three legs, at first we thought he had trench foot or something with all the rain, and then I saw the cut on his stifle, it wasn’t very big, but his whole leg was swelling, so a call to the vet it was. Have you ever tried pouliticing the stifle? Hmmmm very difficult, we were lucky he wasn’t moving around a lot, so knew it’d stay on for at least 10 minutes, it was poultice, nappy & then a lot of masking tape, it does actually stick quite well & it doesn’t pull on the hairs too much either, it obviously didn’t stay on all night but the vet said even 10 minutes would be beneficial & it definitely lasted longer than that. It was lots of injections for him & then anti-biotic paste for a while, needless to say we didn’t get away & haven’t qualified for the Nationals this year….boo!! We did reach the other goals I’d set myself for the year, even if we didn’t go to Hickstead, we did qualify, so we’ll drink to that. Mr G is back in work, we had a lesson on Monday with Kim Ratcliffe, lots of loosening work, which was great & given me things to do when I’m schooling alone, we travelled to the lesson in the wagon, Mr G’s first trip. I have a lesson tomorrow with Angela & then I’m just mainly concentrating on training & making our partnership stronger for next season, oh, and a demonstration at the Royal Manx Agricultural show for good measure x

North West Eagles

Hello again, so, where shall I start? I guess from where I last left you, mum & I went back to Mr G at the end of April for a qualifier at Kings Equestrian, now theres some very windy & bendy & steep roads to get there, but we found it, eventually, after tom tom taking us through a far too skinny road, I mean way too skinny for meeting a delivery lorry & trying to reverse a trailer….eek!! It was also a wet & miserable day which wasn’t great either, but we got there & did our tests achieving 65.23% in both, again, very consistent, but unfortunately I didn’t gain enough points to qualify for the Championships at Hickstead….boo!! Also the Lee Pearson clinic I was looking forward too was postponed due to double booking & I couldn’t make the new date, which was yesterday, boo again!! We did however get Mr G home earlier than planned, we managed to get on the freight boat home, which was great, we got a cabin, breakfast & everything.

I put myself forward for the North West Team for the para Home International, which was last week, held at Vale View, the NW had two teams NW Eagles & NW Buzzards& the weekend consisted of trot up on Friday evening, first test on Saturday & second test on Sunday. After his long travels though poor Mr G was a bit stiff so we failed trot up on the Friday, we were able to present him again on the Saturday morning, so after an hour loosening him off on Friday evening, & an early morning on the Saturday, to loosen him off for an hour before he went in front of the panel, he trotted up fine, thank goodness. I didn’t feel the test went great on the Saturday, so wasn’t expecting a good score I was right, I only got 63.452% so was disappointed with that. It rained all night on Saturday, so poor Mr G didn’t lie down all night as he was in temporary stabling & his bed was wet, so I found he felt quite tired on Sunday, I tried lots of walking to loosen him off, we had our KBIS qualifier before the team competition, he didn’t feel forward enough & he still felt quite stiff, I don’t think the never ending rain helped either or the 8c temperature, isn’t it meant to be summer? We got another disappointing score of 62.50% for that test, so I tried a lot more lateral work warming up for my second team test & trying to ride him more positively, I know, I should be doing that for every test, but sometimes my nerves get the better of me and my confidence slips, especially warming up with the top riders who seem so focused, and then there’s little old me bobbing along, anyway the positive thinking improved my score & I got 64.76% which was great because the majority of the other  riders scores went down, so I was happy with that. Our team came 5th overall which was a great effort & one of the riders on my team got the highest score of the weekend which was brill. We got the boat home on Monday afternoon, along with what seemed like a thousand bikers invading the island for TT, we had to sit on the deck of the ferry all the way home as it was packed, good job it was a lovely day or we may have frozen to death. 

Before we went away I got an email to tell me I had a wild  card to the Hickstead Championships, which was great news as this is part of the selection process for the paralympics, so the atmosphere will be great as they’re trying to prepare the horses & riders for the atmosphere that will be at Greenwich, I unfortunately won’t be going though, after last weekend I think it would be unfair on Mr G travelling him so far, as he isn’t feeling 100% & it will be a long journey from the Island, I’m happy that goal two was achieved, but sad having to miss it as I think it would be a great experience, I will be competing locally instead, I was going to have a go at combined training but chickened out, maybe I’ll enter next time after I’ve had a bit of practice. x

Goal……

Well we’ve been up to quite a lot since last time I posted, I received a letter from British Dressage to tell me I’d qualified for the Winter Championships, great news, first goal for this year achieved, big thumbs up for Mr G & I……woohoo!!

We’ve been training hard & it paid off when we did a medium test at the start of April, without stirrups, and achieved 62% way better than our last affiliated score so we’re moving up, I can’t believe I’m doing medium tests now, if you’d told me this time last year I’d be doing medium tests in 12 months I would have thought you were pulling my leg, but here I am & getting a decent score too, might give myself a pat on the back!! Still loads to learn though & Mr G is certainly teaching me, I still need to find the button for his medium trot, but I’m managing to get him more forward now, especially without my stirrups. Jimmy & I went away at the start of April too, we went to Bishop Burton to compete at a Hickstead qualifier, we got a bit lost on the way there & I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked to warm up for my first test, I was expecting a score under 60% but was pleasantly surprised when I got 65.71% I got the exact same mark in the second test too, nobody can say we’re not consistent.

So, we went to Hartpury last week, I drove the trailer myself, it was a pretty long drive, but it was straight forward & we got there without any hiccups. Mr G settled well in his stable & we took ourselves to a premier inn for an early night. It was great because I wasn’t on until the afternoon so we had all morning to get ready. Mr G’s previous, previous owner text me to see where we were & came to see him, she hadn’t seen him for years & was a bit emotional which was lovely, it was so nice to meet her & learn some more about his history. It was then time to warm up so I went to the arena & Anamour was being a bit lazy, having me on. As soon as it was time for our test though he was ready to get in there & strutt his stuff, the test started well, but Mr G is a bit too clever & knows his test, so the halt rein back didn’t go to plan, he went straight into rein back before I had  a chance to establish the halt & then I threw more marks away by kicking him forward into trot & it should’ve been walk…..d’oh!! I really enjoyed it though & even managed to breathe all the way round, it makes life much easier when you breathe!! My marks from both judges were quite different though, judge at C, who I later learned was from Norway & will be judging at Greenwich, placed me joint fourth with over 64% but the judge at B placed me sixth with over 58% so I ended sixth with 61.55% I was happy that I got over 60% but angry with myself for throwing away marks. I then got a call from the lady who I bought Mr G from, she was at Hartpury too as she was competing the next day, there were more tears & Mr G definitely recognised her, its nice to know he can bring people to tears, it shows how much he has been loved. We left Hartpury that day & took Mr G to his temporary home until he can return to the island when the ferry comes back into service, he has a lovely big stable & a paddock to go out in. We got the boat home the next day, its strange being home without him & not having to muck him out & feed and ride him every day, I miss him. I’m going back over on Monday to see him though & compete on Tuesday at a Hickstead qualifier, and we’re also going to a Lee Pearson clinic, which I’m looking forward to. I’ll let you know how we get on.

Love is….

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Well obviously I’m not out being romanced, but I have had a bag full of chocolate given to me, better than a bunch of flowers any day & they taste better. I let Jimmy know I wasn’t getting him anything, but getting something for Anamour instead…..am I a bit mean??

Last week I had a lesson with Clive, it was great, Anamour was going really soft & I didn’t want it to end, he felt amazing. He was a bit stiff for it at my lesson on Thursday though, but it didn’t take long for him to loosen off, even in the outdoor in the cold & wet, can’t complain though because at least we’ve been able to ride & not had any hideous snow & ice, our island has been tropical compared to the rest of Britain.

On Saturday I did another Medium test, it was unaffiliated & I did it without my stirrups, I’m to ride all my tests without them now, I was pleased with the way he went, as it was a miserable cold, wet day again, we got 65% and I didn’t even need my test read out, I remembered it all….woohoo!! I’m really enjoying doing the medium tests & movements, I never even knew what a half pass was last year, Mr G has taught me so much in such a short space of time, he’s amazing & I’m so happy I found him….My Valentine xx

Celebrate Life…..

Well hello there, nearly a month into 2012. Twelve years have passed since my life changed, but every cloud has a silver lining. So many doors closed, but I can’t think about them, I have to look for all the doors that have opened too!!

We’ve had a pretty good start to the year, Mr G and I went away on the 6th January, was meant to be the 4th, but January weather decided we weren’t going that day. We travelled down to Vale View, where Dan, my brother-in-law, dropped us off, Mr G to his stable & me to my other home, The Cottage B&B, for the best scones ever!! We were competing on the 8th, so we managed to fit in a lesson on the Saturday with Julie. I was up the stables early, plaiting up & getting Mr G ready, he was quite hairy as I was planning to get him clipped beforehand, but because we were delayed there was no time & he had to keep his woolly coat for the comp. I found it quite difficult on my own, everyone else has their little network of people around them to help get ready, warm up, give advice after the test, or just moral support really. I’ve come to realise now though that I wasn’t alone, I have Mr G, he is the other half of my team isn’t he? My first test was “good” which totally isn’t good enough, I’m looking for brill, I just need to find the sparkle, so that’s what I’m going to work on. We did have a magic moment in one of my lessons at home, where I really felt Mr G come to life & lift up, so I’ve felt it, I just need to re-create it every time I get on…..if only it was that easy hey? Our second test we got 62%, it gave me lots to work on with Julie for my training throughout the week, ready for Myerscough the next Saturday.

Dan & Lauren came to pick me up on the Friday & we travelled up to New Barn Farm in Knutsford to stable Mr G for the night. It was up early on the saturday, I had Lol there to work her magic on the plaiting, we had Mr G looking super gorgeous in no time, it was bleeding cold though, a bit like it’s going to be this week…brrrr!

So off we went to Myerscough, Mr G in all his rugs, as he’d had his woolly coat clipped off by then, except for his goat legs, we left them hairy as he has mud to wade through at home. It was nice having support & Lol warmed him up while I got ready, I decided I’d try do my test without stirrups, I have dispensation for this, I can get him more forward without them & I have a much stronger & straighter seat. I thought the warm up test went well, could have been more forward so I worked on that before the second one with lots of transitions, I thought the second test was better. We got the results, 66% in the warm up & 64% in the qualifier, I was a bit disappointed because I thought I’d done better in the second test, that’s always the way though, when you think you’ve done well you haven’t & when you think you’ve done rubbish it’s good,  when I saw the sheet I totally understood the remarks though & know what I have to work on. I’m getting my looped reins this week, so I’m hoping they’ll make a difference as they won’t be able to slide through my hands & I’ll have a more consistent contact.

My next competition is a Medium test I think, local one, get a bit of practice doing the fun things, I’ve been getting Mr G flexible with carrot stretches, I reckon I could teach him to bow, extra marks if he salutes too maybe?? Off now to celebrate being alive, it’s better than feeling sorry for myself, you can’t change the past, or, as I like to say, “You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust the Sails”

The best laid plans…….

Where do I start? Well how about with the wagon, it was due to go through its Manx test a week before we were booked on the boat. It was on its way, we asked someone else to take it for me as I was at work & as he was taking it down the lane at the farm the brakes failed, if it was me I’d have panicked & probably just gone straight across the road, but lucky for everyone he’s an experienced wagon driver & steered it into the bushes, needless to say it didn’t make it to the test centre, so the search was on for transport to the nationals. Luckily help came in the form of a nice blue horsebox leant to us by very kind friends, with full living, so no need to shell out a load more money for  accommodation.

The day we were booked on the boat came but it was blowing a hoolie,so horses weren’t able to travel, the same for the next two days with the tail end of hurricane Katia was it? We got on the boat on the Weds evening, only just, after waiting to be loaded on the boat, we tried to start the wagon….nothing….the battery had gone flat, we needed the boat men to jump start us, eventually we were on our way, arriving at Pam’s in Knutsford at 1.30 in the morning….yawn. With Mr G in a barn we got our heads down after making up our beds, we were in for a cold night, but two duvets later I managed to get some sleep. Thursday it was time to head down to Stoneleigh, it took us about two and a half hours to get there, arriving there it dawned on me how massive a competition it was & the nerves kicked in. We found Anamour his stable & got him bedded down & hayed & watered. Mum & Becky arrived late evening & we got our tea, & afterwards mum plaited Mr G up, then it was an early night for me as I had to be ready for the arena walk in the morning which was between 6.30am & 7.30am, again….yawn!! My test was at 8.43am, the warm up arena was pretty chocca & every time I stopped to speak to Pam or Wendy for advice I was quickly moved on, that’s where I needed an ear piece & someone with a microphone. It was test time & I entered the arena, until then I thought I’d managed to keep my nerves in check, but my breath disappeared & my body went a bit weak. Centre line x halt immobility salute, nowhere in the test sheet did it say, Anamour do a poo, I lost marks as he halted “wide behind” personally I think he should’ve gained a mark there as he was only trying to keep the poo off his white socks.

After all the rushing around, which didn’t help the nerves we didn’t get as good a mark as I’d hoped, in fact nowhere near, but in my defence I qualified, which was this years goal. Luckily there was no wind on the way back so we were accepted to sail, which was lucky as Jimmy was threatening to leave us there if we didn’t get on. At least I know what to expect next year if I qualify again & have plenty of time to try & control the nerves. Now it’s time to get plenty of competition mileage under my belt & get to the qualifiers for the winter & summer championships next year.

We’re on our way……

***I’M GOING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS***

If any of you didn’t know, you do now, I got a Wild Card so I’m on my way to the Nationals. I’m excited & nervous, it’s going to be a great experience & I can’t wait. It’s also my birthday weekend, so what  nice present eh? We’re going to make a weekend of it, I’m staying an extra night so I can watch the Grand Prix on the Saturday, see all the Dressage Superstars. Staying in our little horsebox too which will be a novelty, either that or Jimmy & I will end up killing each other.

We’ve been working really hard, I think I can count on both hands how many times I’ve been happy hacking since we returned from the UK. Last week I had a couple of lessons with Clive, this week I’ve had a lesson with Jo Winfield, that was on Monday, it was a great lesson & I got Anamour’s back legs nicely engaged, homework is to keep them that way….eek! Today I had a great lesson with Jaanet, both me & Anamour were mopping our brows by the end of it, same again tomorrow. I’ve started Pilates twice a week & already I’m feeling a bit looser around my back & torso.

On Saturday I did my first ever medium, there were no ground breaking scores, but I was happy with my first attempt, always need something to improve on, or life would be boring, wouldn’t it?? We also did a Para test & got another 9…woo-hoo, a few of them would be nice at the Nationals as a birthday prezzie!!

It’s Manx Grand Prix next week, the practices have been this week, Anamour will have a slight break as we don’t like to take the trailer out when it’s bike time & I certainly won’t be riding down the road to the nearest equestrian centre to school. I’ll be doing the homework I got on Monday getting his quarters activated, just 10-15 minutes a day in the paddock & will probably take him over the hills to get his bum muscled up.

Kids are back at school soon, Shayne has been shopping with his Granddad today for his uniform & school pens/bags etc. He’s come home with carrier bags FULL of stuff, he’ll be all pristine going back to school, for about 5 minutes anyway…

Just the beginning…..

We got away on the boat on the 17th June. We were kindly leant a Land Rover Discovery by Mylchreest Motors to pull Anamour in the trailer, the sailing was nice & calm, we arrived at Heysham at around midnight & had to drive down to Knutsford to put Mr G in a stable for the night before our drive down to Vale View. We got to Vale View the next day without a hitch & Mr G settled in nicely, he went out with George for the afternoon, and I took him out for a hack the next day, while riding along the bridle path I was faced with a little fox trotting along towards me, as we don’t have foxes on the Isle of Man I’m not used to seeing them, so it was a nice surprise to see one so close.

Monday was when the hard work started, I had two lessons with Julie, one in the morning & one in the evening, Julie had a ride on anamour in the evening lesson to get a feel for what he was like. He was moved over to the Dressage yard & as he hadn’t really lost his winter coat he got clipped as he would’ve been a bit uncomfortable with all the work in his woolly jacket. Tuesday I had a lesson with Andrew Fletcher & we went through bits of my tests. Wednesday I had a lesson with Ian Woodhead & Thursday I had another lesson with Julie in the morning & Ian in the evening, poor Mr G wasn’t sure what’d hit him, all that work. Friday I took him for another hack & saturday we ran through my tests. 

So Sunday, time for the competition. Lucky for me Sara plaited him up for me, my plaits can be a bit dodgy, but I’m working on them, it’s quite hard to plait up when your right hand doesn’t want to work properly. After warming up in a busy arena it was time for my test, I decided to use my snaffle bridle as he’s been hiding behind the contact in his double & seems to tense up in walk. It was a good choice as we came away from the warm up class with 70.95% & first place. We then did our second test, this was the qualifier for the Nationals, I thouught my test went pretty well & I got 66.43%, another good score, but not quite good enough, two other riders were joint first with68.33% I wasn’t very far behind & I was really chuffed with our scores, I haven’t had him very long really so it was a great result & shows our partnership is blossoming. 

Anamour stayed at Vale View for another week  of training & then we took him back up to Knutsford on the 5th July for Myerscough on the 6th. I plaited him up & we got on our way on Weds morning, the traffic was nice & quiet so we were at Myerscough in just over an hour. I didn’t have very long to warm up though by the time I’d tacked up etc, but we did our first test & it felt good, all though I didn’t think I’d got medium trot. My second test didn’t feel to great, he got a bit stuck in his turn on the haunches & again my medium didn’t quite feel so good as it did when we were doing it around the outside of the arena before the horn went,typical. I’d decided to put his double on him as he’d been quite strong the day before, I think I’ll stick to his snaffle though in future para tests. We won both classes, 69.05% in the warm up & 64.76% in the qualifier, unfortunately not enough to qualify for the Nationals, but we’re showing promise. I got my first 9 too so that softened the blow of not qualifying, it was for halt rein back, I was way happy with that.

I’ve also purchased a wagon to get me & Mr G around, it’s automatic, I was lucky that my aunty Kath spotted it in the Farmers Guardian, as auto horseboxes at a decent price are rare as hens teeth. It carries two horses & has fab living, Rodney can now come travelling with me instead of sulking at home, very exciting, here’s a pic.

We got home with Mr G yesterday, I was relieved it wasn’t blowing a hoolie as I really wanted to get my horse home & I didn’t want to puke on the boat!! I think he’s happy to be home, but he can think again if he reckons he’s going back to happy hacking, sorry Mr G, but the hard work is just beginning!!!

Happy days……

It was a gorgeous day yesterday for a bank holiday & Senior race day at the TT. Gutted that Guy Martin didn’t win though! We went for a ride up the mountain in the morning so we could get back in time to watch the race, little did we know it had been raining elsewhere on the island so the race was delayed, at first just an hour or so & then it got delayed again as the roads were wet in places, they got away at 5.15pm for the 6 lap race, bunch of nutters! We had a nice BBQ & made a day of it basking in the sunshine like lizards.

Today I’ve been competing at Gilbeys competition, I did my second ever elementary on Mr G, we won with 64.83% I was very surprised & very happy with him, he just needs a bit more oomph to get the higher marks, got an 8 for extended walk & an 8 in my para test for free walk  we ended on 64.76% in our para test, so we have work to do there before the KBIS qualifiers. I’m going away on Friday on the boat with Jimmy & Mr G down to Vale View for a weeks training, & then competing on the 26th, then I’m going to leave Mr G in England & I’m going back over on the 4th July for another competition on the 6th. We’re also going to watch a concert in Manchester on the 7th July & then bringing Mr G home on the boat on the 8th. I can’t leave him away for too long as I’ll miss him. I’ve asked at the B&B if they can give Jimmy stuff to do while we’re there or he’ll go stir crazy, or I will, I’m sure they’ll find him plenty of jobs to do.

So that’s my plans for the next week or so, now TT is over we can get back to normal & start hacking on the road again, instead of being confined to the mountain, it’s lovely up there but a bit stoney & rutted in places.

Lets hope the sun stays shining & the wind doesn’t blow to hard before our trip away or they won’t let us on the boat, so no more windy days please x

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